Millions of people go on long- or short-term trips to developing countries each year. As much as you may have a desire to be one of those, a trip just might not be possible for you at this time. It could be due to an illness or a family situation - but don’t let this prevent you from still helping those less fortunate than you. Here are some ways you can succeed in your quest to help the poor, right where you are.
It Doesn’t Have to be Money
When you hear about helping the poor, the first thing you may think of is donating money, but there are hundreds of other things you can give. And donating your belongings doesn’t just mean old and tatty clothes sitting in a long-forgotten box in the attic. Think clothing hanging in your closet but unworn in the past year, books you won’t read again, toys and games, blankets, tools, even small and large pieces of furniture that can be sold to benefit programs overseas. Remember that no matter how much you have compared to those around you, you are wealthy in comparison to most of the world’s population, many of whom live on less than $2 a day. Rummaging through your closets, drawers, attics and basements (and even storage units!) you are sure to find something unused that will be prized by another.
Understand the Issues and Fight Against Them
Educating yourself on the issues surrounding poverty in developing countries goes a long way in combatting it. Don’t take for granted what you hear on the news and from others: pick a country or two and research the issues faced by people there. The more you know, the more you can help. It is well known that those in developing countries have limited shelter, clothing and food, but they are also deprived in areas such as education, adequate healthcare, and representation in local and national government. If you are good with words, why not write a short article and send it to your local newspaper?
Buy Fair Trade
With the internet and our increasingly global world, you can shop for one-of-a-kind products from all over the world without stepping outside your house. In turn, you help alleviate poverty when vulnerable farmers are able to make a fair wage. Small-scale producers of tea and coffee, for example, are often among the lowest paid, and disadvantaged women skilled in making handmade goods work long hours in harsh conditions. When you support fair trade, you ensure producers are getting the money they deserve for the products they make, and creating opportunities to help bring them out of poverty. Earnings invested back into the families and communities provide important health and education programs that would otherwise be lacking.
Support Education and Sustainability
You have no doubt heard the phrase “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Make sure you are not giving handouts, but are supporting programs designed to empower people in developing countries. Get involved with organizations and support programs where education and sustainability are the priority. You might find a student to sponsor so they can develop skills and a trade that leads to a good job, independence and a better life.